hook•ing•up \ hùk-iŋ ǝp \ vb :
Some students may be familiar with the experience of waking up earlier than usual, next to an acquaintance – hair out of place and wearing an assortment of clothing that more than slightly resembles what was worn the night before.
“Hooking up” has become a dominant form of romantic interactions on college campuses, and Temple is no exception.
According to LaSalle University professor Dr. Kathleen Bogle, author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus, an environment like Temple is conducive of hook-up behavior because it is a large university, where many 18- to 22-year-olds live within close proximity of one another.
According to a January 2008 article in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology, “76 percent of undergraduate seniors (fourth/final year students) had hooked-up at some point.” All the hooking up – though it may be easier to initiate during college – has made some college students now think of an actual relationship as something time-consuming, difficult and a little bit scary.
“Hook-up culture perpetuates non-emotional reactions and becomes very sexual. Sex becomes very casual, so it becomes just ‘doing it,’” said Dr. Patrice Heller, Temple professor of psychology and human sexuality.
Some Main Campus students are relating to this casualness.
“You kind of do it in a carefree sense,” sophomore business major Diana Weiss said. “You don’t expect for it to become a relationship.”
Rebecca Johnson, a sophomore advertising major, agreed hooking up can set the scene for detachment.
“I think it can become a vicious cycle of casual relationships, so you never learn what it takes to be in a real relationship if that’s all you do,” she said, bringing up another aspect of the hookup scene – the effect it has on “real” relationships.
Johnson said if a guy does pursue her in a way more serious than hooking up, it is almost startling.
“At first I tend to shy away from it because I don’t want to reciprocate too much and lose at the whole thing,” she said.
With hooking up, elements of traditional dating are often eliminated.
“The same system that is used to find a one-night stand is used to find relationships,” Bogle said. This sort of system can contribute to the uneasiness people may feel when the R-word is brought up.
“I think hooking up is like an alternative to relationships. You don’t have to be in a relationship because you can just hook up with people. Relationships tend to last less time as a result of it,” freshman theater major Julia Freedman said.
But Freedman has had how the system worked in her favor, she said. She is currently in a relationship with someone she met through hooking up.
“If we were just talking about it, then probably neither one of us would have had the guts to make the first move. Because we hooked up, now we’re really happy, and we’re in a relationship,” Freedman said, adding that the relationship did not come without some apprehension of commitment.
Still, the mindset of casualness is not always a bad thing, Bogle said.
“[The hook-up system]’s not as structured as dating,” Bogle said. For some, hooking up works well because it gives those doing it the opportunity to meet more people and figure out what they want in a person.
“I enjoy hooking up with people instead of having a solid relationship with a single girl simply because … how do you really know if you’re really liking somebody?” junior political science major Matthew Bobrow said.
Bobrow also said casually hooking up with someone could require less of a time obligation than an actual relationship. This could be a preferable alternative to some college students who barely have the time to get adequate sleep, let alone time to dedicate to a committed relationship.
But when hooking up carries over into something more consistent, it could even have the potential to become exclusive.
“In some cases,” Bogle said she found, “hooking up [would] go on for a long time but didn’t turn into a relationship.”
She added that these sorts of “relationships” would end because one person would usually become jealous or realize what he or she had been trying to convince him or herself was a relationship, really wasn’t at all.
“I just think it’s really important for people to understand what they want in a relationship and really stick to that … don’t try to make more of something than it really is,” Chelsea Newton, junior adult and organizational development major, said.
Overall, Bogle found in her studies that most students were neither happy nor disappointed with the system.
“[It’s] kind of a system people wander through,” she said.
Hooking up in college may contribute to the confusion and heartbreak that sometimes coincides with young adult life. But, as some students – like Johnson – have come to accept, it may also be part of the exploratory experience and nature of college life.
“Except for the rare exceptions,” Johnson said. “College isn’t about serious relationships. It’s about learning how to communicate with people.”
Dana Ricci can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.